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There are good performances and interesting, though undeveloped, narrative ideas in this debut feature by the writer-director Christina Choe. J Smith-Cameron and Steve Buscemi play Ellen and Leo, a careworn, middle-aged couple whose infant daughter disappeared 30 years ago and has never been found. Suddenly, a thirtysomething woman, Nancy Freeman (Andrea Riseborough) makes contact; she has an eerie similarity to the police’s computer simulation of how the missing girl would look now, and she has a plausible story about how her late mother (a brief, potent appearance by Ann Dowd) evasively told her she was adopted. What is going on? Could it be that desperate loneliness and emotional damage on both sides is drawing them delusionally together?
A few decades ago, the suspenseful ambiguities of this premise could have been teased out almost indefinitely. Nowadays, the technical reality of DNA identification has changed the game. And so, the police officer shows up with the genetic testing kit, takes a saliva swab from all three and tells them the results will be ready in a few days – so this is the lifespan of whatever drama can be conjured.
Riseborough, Cameron and Buscemi are all good in difficult roles: there is a fascinating moment when they meet for the first time and Ellen is awkwardly unsure whether to take her possible daughter’s hand. Other dramatic third-act possibilities could have been looked at, more twists and turns explored, but perhaps Choe felt that such inventions would take her feature into Hitchcock territory and away from the more downbeat and realistic mode she started with. An interesting and worthwhile drama nonetheless.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Nancy review – Riseborough shines in engaging psychodrama | Thrillers (film)